'We don’t expect any more dramatic messages immediately', says Coveney

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has called on the public to trust the government and the HSE and to ignore rumours on social media.

'We don’t expect any more dramatic messages immediately', says Coveney

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has called on the public to trust the government and the HSE and to ignore rumours on social media.

“We will make decisions based on public health advice, don’t pick up information from sources that are not reliable.”

Mr Coveney told Newstalk Breakfast that people are getting “information overload” and “we are living in extraordinary times.”

“I will say this very bluntly to people this morning, be very careful where you get your information from.

"Yesterday I got dozens of calls from people who thought that the country was going to move into lockdown at 11 o'clock this morning because of a totally irresponsible message that was put up initially on WhatsApp and spread across social media, so there are all sorts of rumours spreading all around."

Addressing one of the rumours, Mr Coveney said: “We are not planning to close airports or shut down flights between Ireland and the UK, despite what some people might have read on social media and on the back of false rumours.”

The Tánaiste criticised those spreading the false information saying they are “essentially playing on people's fears, trying to cause disruption and upset".

“What I would say to people is trust your government here, trust government agencies, trust the HSE, we will get messages out across social media, but please ignore rumours.

“Nobody is going to hide anything from the public here I can promise you that. We will make decisions in a way that is transparent in a way that is based on public health advice.”

The government will do everything it can to get the message across about what measures are being taken.

We will make decisions as we get advice from public health experts, we don’t expect any more dramatic messages immediately.

“We will try to be as transparent as we can be. We are asking people to work with us. We need to remind people what this is about.

“This is about saving lives. That is the message we need to project every day.”

Mr Coveney told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that everyone must work together - State services and GPs cannot do this alone, the public must also do their part.

He said there are vulnerable people and “all of us who are fit and strong have a responsibility to act accordingly".

Newstalk's technology correspondant Jess Kelly says we need to stop and think about what's being spread through WhatsApp.

"It's very useful when it's used properly but it's an absolute nightmare when it's misused and abused.

"What we've seen - particularly over the past three or four days - is an incredible amount of not only misinformation but pure fantasy being shared and being presented as fact.

"This is only going to scare people who are already pretty freaked out about what is going on at the moment."

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